Breaking Down the Training Camp Roster

The long, largely uneventful off-season is behind us and the 49ers are the most optimistic they've been in years. They are the decided division favorites of the majority of the analysts and pundits around the country. The roster has the right mix of youth and experience and is fairly well-stocked with Pro-Bowlers from seasons past and guys who are on the verge of earning that honor in the future.

. If everything goes right and the team gels and they get a couple of bounces here and there this could be an 11-5 team that makes noise in the playoffs. Or they can get some tough breaks, the injury bug could bite them hard and the whole thing can turn into a miserable 5-11 disaster.

Let's take a closer look at the guys sweating it out during two-a-days in the Santa Clara sun.


Jarrett Brown – Undrafted rookie is a project at best. Didn't get a single rep during 7-on-7 or 11-on-11 drills during OTAs or minicamp and won't get many in training camp either.

David Carr – Free agent signee has been up-and-down so far in camp, but he was acquired because his skills, athleticism closely resemble Alex Smith's.

Nate Davis – Still pretty raw and a long ways away. He's got the #3 job locked up, but coaches expected more development by now and are growing impatient.

Alex Smith – Has enjoyed – by far – his best offseason as a pro. Knows the offense inside and out and has been the star of camp. Now he just has to carry it over to the games.


Jehuu Caulcrick – Undrafted fullback out of Michigan State has practice squad experience with the Jets but faces long odds here.

Glen Coffee – With a season of experience under his belt, Coffee is hoping for better things in 2010. He gained 15-pounds of muscle in the offseason in hopes of being more of a "power back."

Anthony Dixon – Rookie 6th-round pick out of Mississippi State has been instructed to run lower and quit dancing so much behind the line of scrimmage if he wants to stick.

Frank Gore – Gore's still far and away the featured performer in this offense and he'll be grumpy whenever the rock isn't in his hands.

Brit Miller – An underdog to make the club, but the converted ex-linebacker had advantages over Norris as a receiver and special teams performer.

Moran Norris – Coming off an awful season in 2009. Even though Gore loves him, he'll have to show something in camp to hold off the hard-charging Miller.

Michael Robinson – An afterthought in the offense, Robinson remains a valuable contributor to all the special teams units, and can play both backfield spots in an emergency.


Michael Crabtree – Experiencing his first training camp as a pro, Crabtree continues to make meteoric progress and already seems to be the "go-to-guy" for Smith.

Ted Ginn – Was very poor as a receiver and punt returner early in OTAs but has improved a lot as he's gotten more comfortable. Lining up in many of the three-receiver packages.

Bakari Grant – UC-Davis product signed on as an undrafted free agent and has good size at 6-3, 195. Is hoping to show enough to nab a practice squad spot.

Jason Hill – Never much of a practice performer his first three years, Hill seemed to get the message this offseason and has competed much harder, making an number of acrobatic grabs.

Brandon Jones – Missed the last week of OTAs and minicamp with an ankle injury. I'm not sure he realizes the tenuousness of his situation.

Scott Long – Another hopeful with an NFL body, the UFA from Louisville goes 6'2, 216 and will try to turn some heads with limited reps.

Josh Morgan – He's shown he can block and can be a reliable possession receiver. The next step is to become more of a downfield threat.

Jared Perry – Kid from Missouri doesn't have the size of Long or Grant and will have to do his damage from the slot. Kyle Williams – 6th-round pick from Arizona State will battle Hill for playing time in the slot and is the leader in the clubhouse for the punt returner job.

Dominique Zeigler – A personal favorite of receivers coach Jerry Sullivan, Zeigler has added kick returning to his resume to look more versatile.


Nate Byham – Touted as the best blocking TE in the draft, the 6th-rounder out of Pitt will be put through the grinder by position coach Pete Hoener in camp to prove he's worth the hype.

Tony Curtis – Ex-Cowboy is a reliable blocker with decent hands who'll have to show he's head-and-shoulders the best man to hold off a couple of youngsters.

Vernon Davis – It'll be hard to top 13 touchdowns, but Davis – who's chasing a new deal – will be determined to show last year wasn't a fluke.

Joe Jon Finley – In the mix for the third TE job and has the advantage over Curtis and Byham of already having a year in the 49ers system.

Delanie Walker – Saw a lot of playing time last year but didn't take as much advantage of the mismatches as one would've liked. Needs to improve his blocking.


David Baas – Was re-signed to one year deal and will try to hold off Iupati for the left guard job as long as he can. Also taking snaps at backup center.

Alex Boone – Youngster who spent last season on practice squad remade his body in the offseason and will be challenging Sims for backup tackle job.

Anthony Davis – 11th overall pick from Rutgers struggled mightily in OTAs, but showed incremental improvement. Conditioning still has a ways to go.

Brian de la Puente – Former Cal Bear who played with the Chiefs in 2008, de la Puente is one of the longest shots in camp.

Eric Heitmann – The veteran leader and anchor of a young offensive line, Heitmann is invaluable to the offense with his ability to diagnose what opponents are doing.

Mike Iupati – Second of the Niners two 1st-round picks, the All-American from Idaho looks like a beast and will be starting sooner rather than later.

Matt Kopa – Undrafted rookie out of Stanford will hope to be this year's Boone, doing just enough to make the practice squad before making roster bid next season.

Chris Patrick – Ex-Eagle spent a few weeks on the roster last year, but has several people ahead of him at right tackle.

Chilo Rachal – He's the starter at right guard, but will need to play much better in 2010 to keep it that way. Was just as bad as Snyder and Baas in 2009.

Barry Sims – Veteran re-signed to one-year deal wasn't in shape during OTAs, but he'll kick it up a notch now that he knows Boone will challenge him.

Adam Snyder – Stopgap starter keeping the seat warm for Anthony Davis, but can play line up anywhere in a pinch and is more experienced than Wragge.

Joe Staley – The best lineman on the team when healthy; which he wasn't last season, missing half the year with a bum knee. Looked good in OTAs.

Cody Wallace – Former general manager Scot McCloughan championed his cause, but he's in Seattle now. Wallace will have to show he can play guard as well as center to stick.

Tony Wragge – Versatile guy who can play all three interior line spots and has been taking snaps in camp along with Baas. Not much actual playing experience.


Kentwan Balmer – Former 1st-round pick has gone sackless in 27 games. He'll have to really show something to make it to September.

Demetric Evans – Veteran backup gets a handful of snaps per game when Justin Smith needs a blow. Good mentor for the younger linemen.

Aubrayo Franklin – Disgruntled nosetackle wasn't too happy about being franchised and took forever to sign his tender, missing all off-season practices.

Ricky Jean-Francois – Last season's 7th-round pick took advantage of Franklin's absence and got a ton of reps in OTAs. Looks much-improved.

Ray McDonald – Had a troubling off-season incident, but it doesn't appear to have affected him during camp. Inside pass-rusher in the nickel.

Khalif Mitchell – Tackle served two stints on the practice squad last season and may be headed there again this year. Good motor.

Justin Smith – Relentless pass-rusher creates a lot of pressure, but has difficulty "getting home." Entering his 10th season in the league.

Isaac Sopoaga – Two-down end a steady performer versus the run, but not much of a threat to sack the quarterback.

Derek Walker – Former Seahawk signed late last season, will challenge Evans and Balmer for a backup end job, with the odds stacked well against him.


Mike Balogun – Undrafted rookie from Oklahoma has about a thousand guys ahead of him at inside linebacker, and he's already 25.

Navorro Bowman – 3rd-round pick out of Penn State will have to make adjustment from being a "Will" in a 4-3 defense at college to being an inside 3-4 guy here.

Diyral Briggs – Should serve as inspiration to many of the long shots here as last year's undrafted signee from Bowling Green eventually cracked the 53-man roster.

Ahmad Brooks – Nickel pass rusher off the edge working hard in camp to be an all-purpose, three-down LB. Starters Haralson and Lawson trying to hold him off.

Martail Burnett – Good size, great athlete and spent 12 games on practice squad last year. Got the better of Anthony Davis quite a bit in OTAs, but got chewed out by coaches a lot too.

Parys Haralson – In a three-way fight with Lawson and Brooks for snaps during the regular season. Good – but not great – rusher, very limited in coverage.

Keaton Kristick – Undrafted OLB from Oregon State won't see many reps behind a bunch of vets battling it out for their spots along the depth chart.

Travis LaBoy – Former Cardinal signed to one-year deal will be challenged by Briggs and Burnett. Has to show he's fully recovered from foot injury.

Manny Lawson – Unhappy to be entering his walk year without an extension, Lawson, who had his best season in 2009 missed all of the voluntary OTAs.

Scott McKillop – Dying to show he's more than just a special teams guy, McKillop's drops and coverage skills looked pretty sharp during minicamp.

Takeo Spikes – Graybeard was better last year than he was in '08. Hoping to avoid nagging injuries while holding off the young Turks gunning for his job.

Matt Wilhelm – Top inside backup well experienced with Defensive Coordinator Greg Manusky's schemes from their days together with the Chargers.

Patrick Willis – Unquestionably the 49ers best player, Willis is fully recovered from offseason surgery on his bursa sac.


Phillip Adams – 7th-round pick from South Carolina State came in with the reputation of being a big hitter; he'll look to get his licks in during camp.

Tramaine Brock – Undrafted free agent corner from Belhaven got third team reps throughout OTAs, but finding them harder to come by in August.

Tarell Brown – Looking to challenge Clements for starting LCB job, but most likely will start the year as the nickel/slot corner.

Nate Clements – He's got to prove last season was just a down year and win a starting job in camp. His salary is too exorbitant for him to be a backup.

Dashon Goldson – Young FS really came on late last season in his first year as a starter. Now he's got to show he's not some flash in the pan – while seeking a new deal.

Will James – Free agent signee has made San Francisco his fifth stop in the NFL. Was unable to practice during minicamp because of hairline fracture in his pubic bone. Ouch.

Michael Lewis – Like Spikes, veteran strong safety was better last year than in '08. String of concussions last season is a major concern.

Chris Maragos – Rookie free agent from Wisconsin has realistically no shot, but maybe a couple of training camp hits will open some eyes.

Taylor Mays – Highly-touted safety out of USC fell all the way to the 2nd-round for the Niners to grab. Can his 4.3 speed make up for his lack of coverage instincts?

Karl Paymah – Signed away from Vikings mainly to replace departed special teamer Marcus Hudson. A dime corner at best if playing from scrimmage.

Reggie Smith – Has shown some playmaking potential in past pre-seasons, but has been unable to stay healthy. Competing with Taylor for fourth safety job.

Shawntae Spencer – Started last year third in line for the RCB job but emerged as the starter and had a good year. Was a no-show during voluntary OTAs.

Patrick Stoudamire – Free agent corner from Western Illinois comes from good athletic stock. Has two cousins who've played in the NBA.

Curtis Taylor – Second-year safety has great size and lays the wood, but he's got to show he can cover somebody to win a job in camp. Good special teamer.

LeRoy Vann – Rookie free agent from Florida A&M won't get many (if any) reps at corner. If he's gonna make the club it will be as a punt returner.


Shane Andrus – Kicker should see plenty of work during camp and pre-season, but realistically auditioning for the other 31 teams.

Brian Jennings – Long snapper makes roughly one mistake every three years, so 2010 should be smooth sailing for him.

Andy Lee – Veteran punter made his second Pro-Bowl last season and is just entering his peak. Hoping to be less busy this year.

Joe Nedney – 37-year old will get a breather in camp with Andrus here, but coaches will want assurance he's still got the thump in his leg.

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